Professor Rickford received his B.A. (1971) with highest honors in Sociolinguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his M.A. (1973) and Ph.D. (1979) in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. After teaching at the University of Guyana from 1974-80, he joined the Stanford faculty in 1980. Among other things, he has been president of the International Society for Pidgin Creole Linguistics, President of the Linguistic Society of America, and the chair of the Stanford Faculty Senate. In 2017 he was elected to Membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Professor Rickford won a Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1984 and a Bing Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching in 1992. He is also the recipient of the American Book Award (2000), the Linguistics Society of America's Language and the Public Interest Award, and the Anthropology Association of America's Anthropology and the Media Award (2002). He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, including publications in Discover, Language, Language in Society, Language Variation and Change, Journal of Sociolinguistics, Language and Communication, American Speech, and the Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages. He also contributed "Living Language Notes" and wrote an introductory essay for the 4th edition of The American Heritage Dictionary (2000). His co-authored paper, “Language and Linguistics on Trial: Hearing Rachel Jeantel (and other Vernacular Speakers) in the Courtroom and Beyond” won “Best Paper in Language” in 2016. His books include A Festival of Guyanese Words (ed., 1978), Dimensions of a Creole Continuum (1987), Analyzing Variation in Language (co-ed., 1987), Sociolinguistics and Pidgin-Creole Studies (ed.,1988), African American English (co-ed, 1998), African American Vernacular English (1999), Creole Genesis, Attitudes and Discourse (co-ed., 1999), Spoken Soul (co-authored with his son Russell, 2000), Style and Sociolinguistic Variation, (co-ed, 2001), Language in the USA: Themes for the 21st Century (co-ed., 2004), Language, Culture and Caribbean Identity (co-ed., 2012), African American, Creoles and Other English Vernaculars in Education (co-ed, 2013), Languages in Contact (co-ed., 2014) and Raciolinguistics (co-ed., 2017). In 2018 Cambridge University Press will publish a book of his papers, entitled Variation, Versatility and Change in Sociolinguistics and Creole Studies.
Professor Rickford is married to Angela Rickford, Associate Professor of Education at San Jose State University. They have four children: Shiyama, Russell, Anakela, and Luke. For further information, see http://www.stanford.edu/~rickford/